Welcome to Stack the Deck, where we focus on the key players on the 12/21 NHL DraftKings slate, and determine whether they should be played with a teammate, or ridden individually. Stacking is a common tactic in NHL, with linemates and power play units staying relatively stable throughout the course of a game, and to a smaller extent, a season. Here are a few players I am targeting on Monday’s 8-game slate, and my thoughts on who to play with them in order to stack the deck in your favor.
Stats are gathered from War-On-Ice.com and Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com
Player Matchups are gathered from HockeyViz.com
The NHL is winding down for a short break in the lead up to Christmas, with 18 games being played Monday and Tuesday before a 3-day break. I will be interested to see what sort of impact this has on the players, and in the coaches’ deployment of their players. With a guaranteed 3 days to rest and recover, I expect top lines and top players to receive a bump in TOI. With this in mind, here are some of my thoughts on Monday’s slate:
Philly’s matchup doesn’t initially jump out as a great one, however I find it to be a sneaky good matchup for the season’s biggest surprise goalie. Neuvirh has been nothing short of incredible this season, leading the league in Sv% while eating into the workload of incumbent starter Steve Mason, who himself said before the Flyers’ recent game against the Canucks that he didn’t deserve the net. Mason then went out and posted a 36-save shutout and followed that up with a 35 save, 2 GA game against the Blue Jackets, giving the Flyers a good kind of goalie controversy. It is unknown who will be manning the crease for the Flyers Monday night, however whoever starts will find himself in a good spot.
The Blues aren’t the first team you’d expect to target, however they have some interesting stats in December. St. Louis has the 3rd fewest high-danger scoring chances and normal scoring chances per 60 of the teams in action Monday, and take the 8th most shots per 60. The relatively low quality of the average shot St. Louis takes matches up well with the high pace the Flyers have established. Goalies have faced at least 30 shots in the last 5 games the Flyers have played, including 37 when the Flyers visited St. Louis, a 4-2 win for Neuvirth. I really like the floor for these two facing 30+ shots, and with how well they have played as of late I think the Flyers might be able to take a win from the Blues in one of the closer games of the night according to Vegas.
If taking underdog goalies isn’t your thing, look at Pekka Rinne against the Canadiens. Rinne has only gone above 5 DKPts once in his last 10 starts, which scares me away, but the Canadiens are 2-7-1 in their last 10 and are quite vulnerable without Carey Price for the near future, so he is worth a look playing at home where he has been much better this season.
Stack: Sean Couturier (C) – $3,500
While the Blues have been a good defensive team, with above average possession numbers by any metric you look at, there is one place I want to exploit. Couturier has been phenomenal lately, on a 3 game point streak (2 G, 2 A) and playing monstrous minutes. As their lead penalty killer and defensive specialist, he will continue to see the ice during high event situations, and playing with Simmonds and Voracek gives him offensive upside, as he has shown recently. If the Flyers can stake themselves to a lead, Couturier will be the focal point of the defensive effort to hold that lead, and will have the first crack at an empty-netter.
Target: Justin Faulk (D) – Car (v. Wsh) – $6,200
I targeted the Capitals on Friday night, which made me look like a genius for roughly 35 minutes. Up 3-0 due to contributions from Stamkos and Kucherov, Bishop fell victim to the Washington PP1, giving up 4 goals in 20 minutes to blow the lead, game, and many of my contests in a gut-wrenching 5-3 loss. With the Caps lethal PP (read: Ovi), it’s probably an ill-advised move to target them with any goalie, however they have been a very weak even strength team recently, with the 2nd worst Corsi % at 5on5 in December. Faulk’s on ice Corsi % on the season would be good for 4th best team on the slate even if the Hurricanes are below average as a team. Faulk is a fantastic player, and Carolina’s problems don’t come from when Faulk is on the ice. His average game consists of 1 point, 3 shots and 1 block. In a division game against Grubauer (as Holtby started Sunday and was not impressive anyways), Washington’s struggling backup, Faulk makes for a great play on defense.
Stack: Victor Rask (C) – $4,700
Of the most common point pairs on the Hurricanes, Faulk is involved with the first 4 of them. The offense flows through him, as he makes everyone around him better. My favorite player to stack with Faulk on Monday is Viktor Rask, and he also is Faulk’s best running-mate. The duo has combined for 11 goals on the season where they each had a point, and have a combined 50 points on the season in 33 games. They are the most heavily involved offensive players Carolina has, leading the team in shot attempts/G, and I expect that to continue into Monday’s tilt with Washington.
Target: Taylor Hall (W) – Edm (v. Wpg)
Hall is one of the best players in the league, and is the 4th most productive player at nearly 5 DKPts/G. Even better is his salary, which places him as the 9th most expensive skater on the night, and a full thousand cheaper than any of the players more productive than him. He becomes a must play when you factor in his matchup with Winnipeg (3rd fastest Corsi pace) and that those 3 players above him are all on the road, and Hall plays at home Monday. Hall averages 6 DKPts/G at home, and has 7, 7, and 11 DKPts in his last 3 home games. Play him with confidence in all formats.
Stack: Leon Draisaitl (C) – $4,800
Draisaitl has been Hall’s running mate all year, and as one succeeds, the other one does as well. They rank 4th in the league as a pair in combined goals, in 10 fewer games than other pairs around the league due to Draisaitl’s late call-up. Leon had 9.5 points in the last Oilers home game, with 4 assists. His seasonal average of 5.5 DKPts/G at home for less than $5k is an absolute steal, and I will continue to play him until he is priced out of consideration. He isn’t going to be any time soon, the way his salary is slowly rising.
Let’s vow to have a great Monday, and head into the Holidays with a nice win under our belt.
If you have any comments or questions regarding Monday’s NHL DFS action, you can find me on Twitter @Mattman1398. Good luck tonight, and as always:
Thanks for reading!